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10 Most Common VA Disabilities

10 Most Common VA Disabilities Among Veterans

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Maura Clancy:  Good afternoon, everyone. Thanks for joining us today for our Facebook Live discussion. My name is Maura Clancy. I’m joined today by Michelle De Tore and Michael Lostritto of Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick. Today, we’re talking about the 10 most common VA disabilities. So, we’re going to be covering 10 different conditions and we’re going to get into some specifics about how to get service-connected for these conditions and also how VA rates these conditions. Before we get started, please feel free to utilize the comments feed that’s next to this video. We will be posting other resources and links to other blog posts that we have done in the past that we think might be relevant to some of the topics that we discussed today. So, definitely feel free to take advantage of those materials. Please also feel free to ask comments I mean I’m sorry, ask questions on the comments feed. We’re going to do our best to get to some of the questions while we have our discussion today. No guarantee that we’re going to be able to cover all of them but we will try to get back to you in terms of any additional resources that we think might be helpful. And finally, please feel free to utilize our website which also has a lot of information about what we’ll be discussing today. So, now that we have that covered, Michelle, we’re going to start with you. One of the– actually I think the most common VA disability concerns hearing issues. Can you tell us about the two first disabilities on the list that actually both affect a person’s ability to hear?

Michelle Detore:  Yeah. To be honest, I wasn’t surprised that 1 and 2 are hearing loss and tinnitus. It basically affects all veterans and all different areas of service because when you think about it you can be– you think it’s combat or firefights but it’s not. You can have your MOS which is your Military Occupational Specialty could just have you involved with being exposed to aircraft all day. Loud engine noises or just even loud surrounding noise or volume. So, it’s very common to have it. You usually see that bilateral hearing loss and tinnitus, the most common ringing you can see is 10% and the reasoning behind that is the schedule of criteria for tinnitus is 10% and it’s the most common disability. You really see across the board. They usually, for hearing loss, it’s usually rated based on your speech discrimination which basically means how much you’re understanding what people are saying. It’s for like 0 to 100 and then the pure tone threshold which is usually the lowest sound that you can hear 50% of the time. I think the big thing with hearing loss, in general, is to know that VA has certain criteria for it to consider it a disability and just because sometimes maybe your doctor says that you have hearing loss, it might not be severe enough for VA’s criteria.

Maura:  Right. So, as Michelle pointed out, hearing loss in the regular world does not necessarily compensable hearing loss for VA purposes. Even if you have hearing loss, it has to rise to a certain level to be considered a disability that VA will grant service connection for. I think another interesting thing about tinnitus and Michelle kind of hinted at this, that they give the 10% rating if they’re going to grant service connection for tinnitus but something that’s important to keep in mind is that you don’t need a specific diagnosis unlike hearing loss, tinnitus is just subjective. Tinnitus refers to ringing in the ears essentially and so there’s no way to objectively test for it and VA recognizes that. And so, a subjective report or your own report that you experience tinnitus is enough to show that you meet the current disability and then they’ll look at whether they can relate your tinnitus to service. There’s also a third hearing loss condition that I didn’t know about until we’re preparing for today’s presentation. Another ear condition that is commonly service-connected according to the research that we did, it’s called labyrinthitis and it actually refers to an inner ear disability that can cause vertigo, dizziness, and things like that. We do see these inner ear issues come up and I think they are also sometimes misdiagnosed even. Sometimes a person will have those symptoms but still file a claim for hearing loss.

Michelle:  Yeah, dizziness or vertigo, and they’re not really sure where it’s coming from. That also leads to the fact that if you are having symptoms, you should apply for even just the symptoms because you’re not a doctor, you’re not expected to know what the condition is. There’s a burden on VA to determine that as well.

Maura: Okay, great. So, that’s 1 and 2. Hearing loss and tinnitus and as Michelle said, I don’t think we were too surprised about that just because there are a lot of situations in service that can expose you to hazardous levels of noise. It follows that those are usually easier to come by in terms of showing access. So Mike, do you want to take the– technically the third thing on our list? The third most common VA disability is post-traumatic stress disorder. So, tell us a little bit about getting service-connected for that condition.

Michael Lostritto:  Sure. PTSD, as many of you already know, is a form of a mental health condition usually triggered by a stressful event. So, in the context of VA disability benefits, a stressful event during active duty service. There are approximately a million or a little bit more than a million veterans service-connected for PTSD and I think, generally speaking, there are about 1.7 million veterans service-connected for mental health conditions overall. It makes up a large portion certainly of the veterans who are service-connected for mental conditions, PTSD that is. In order to be granted service connection for PTSD,  really we’re looking for many of the same things that we ordinarily will look for in a condition. Some type of in-service event, a current disability, currently diagnosed PTSD for instance, annexes between your currently-diagnosed PTSD in the in-service event but further with PTSD, you would also need to verify that the stressful event that you’re claiming really caused your diagnosis of PTSD, is corroborated and happened. It’s really important for veterans who are seeking service connection for this condition to provide an affidavit or a lay statement detailing the in-service event and that goes a long way to help establish that the veteran did actually experience that event. One additional thing here to note is that many times we think of PTSD and I think we think that it can only be granted if the stressful event is related to combat. That’s not actually the case. There are many, many veterans who ultimately get PTSD service-connected and the stressful event that kind of originated the diagnosis was non-combat related. So, we see anything ranging from military sexual trauma cases which, have nothing to do with combat necessarily but can certainly still be sufficient to ultimately lead to a PTSD diagnosis.

Maura:  And another thing that you touched on that I think is important is that sometimes veterans will file claims for service connection for PTSD but even if they don’t have a PTSD diagnosis, they might have other mental health conditions that are diagnosable. I think that’s something that will sometimes cause some confusion. You can still be service-connected obviously for another mental health condition. It doesn’t have to be limited to PTSD. As Mike said, there are plenty of incidents that could have caused a mental health condition that have nothing to do with combat so you shouldn’t think that because you weren’t in combat or you weren’t deployed or you didn’t serve in a particular place that you are precluded from bringing a claim like that. Sometimes we get questions about people with multiple diagnoses. A veteran might be confused as to why they are only receiving one rating for their mental health condition even though they have multiple things. They might be diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and PTSD but the reason for that, and maybe you can get in more detail, is just because of the way that VA’s rating criteria is set up. So, do you want to explain that a little bit?

Mike: Sure. Mental health conditions, generally speaking, are all rated under the same diagnostic coding section of the rating schedule and that’s 38 CFR Section 4.130. Under that section, there are a number of different criteria that a veteran can meet to meet different ratings. So, anywhere from the 0% all the way up to 100% but really, a veteran would be looking most commonly at least, the data shows, that veterans most commonly are assigned to 70% rating. The reason for that, I think, is that the way the rating, and we’ll get into this a little bit with some of the other conditions, the way the rating schedule is set up, it leaves a lot of room for veterans to be able to show they meet a higher rating, I think. It’s not based solely on range of motion testing, which we’ll get into with some of the other conditions. Lay testimony, medical evidence, expert opinions, treating physicians, opinions can go a long way to help him show that a veteran may be has a symptom similar to some of the symptoms that are listed for that particular rating. Just to bring it back to what you said, it’s important to note that despite the fact that a veteran may have several diagnoses, maybe major depressive disorder, maybe PTSD, maybe something else, they’ll only be able to receive a single rating. They won’t be able to receive separate ratings for each mental disability that they have.

Maura: And, we will see or we see 100% ratings granted for mental health conditions as Mike mentioned, a lot more commonly when it comes to mental health issues and other types of disabilities and I think part of that is probably because of the occupational impairment aspect of it. The whole purpose of the ratings that VA will assign to veterans that dictates their monthly compensation is that they’re assessing the impact on your ability to have an earning capacity or to work so that mental health overlap with that I think is pretty obvious. People with more severe mental health issues will often time have occupational issues as well. Did you happen to know which groups of veterans are the most affected by PTSD in terms of places of service or different areas of service?

Mike: Yes. This is interesting. The group with the highest percentage in veterans service-connected for PTSD happens to be the Vietnam-era veterans. For that subset, PTSD is the third most common disability that’s service-connected. Another very common era where we see a lot of PTSD grants is for veterans of the Persian Gulf War.

Maura: Okay.

Mike: Although certainly, PTSD is a condition that is and can be service-connected for veterans serving in any period, those are two specific areas where, for whatever reason, we see veterans have a little higher propensity to be service-connected.

Maura:  Great. Anything to add?

Michelle:  No. I think Mike covered it.

Maura: Perfect. We’re going to move on to the fourth condition, which is scars. Michelle, tell us about why scars might be so common and such a common service-connected disability.

Michelle: I think right away when you think of scars and you think of a veteran, you always think of combat and gunshot wounds but it’s actually more common to see them as secondary to surgeries. A lot of veterans suffer from back conditions or knee conditions, arms or whatever it might be, they end up having surgery and as a result of that surgery, the scar. That’s usually the most often we see a veteran is service-connected for it. When it comes to scars, unfortunately, the ratings are pretty low and the criteria to even get above a 0 % rating is kind of high. You have to have more than one or two scars that are painful or are unstable. Unstable means kind of the skin covering the scar, you lose it. You just don’t see that very common that you would see more than two scars. Usually, if somebody has back surgery, you have one scar from one surgery or knee you have one scar from the surgery. At that point when you’re having one or two that are painful or unstable, you’re talking a 10% rating. Scars are usually not rated based on where they’re located either. They’re based on the number of scars you have. So, that’s the thing that’s kind of unique about scars. You don’t have a separate diagnostic code or separate rating because it’s for your elbow or your knee. It’s just in general that you see it, basically.

Maura: Interesting and I think there might be parts of the rating criteria that, correct me if I’m wrong, that might distinguish between scars that are facially disfiguring also. So, they will take those things into account but as Michelle said, it’s kind of tough to get compensation for scars just because– if they’re not causing any impairment or causing a lot of pain, then VA usually will default to the 0% rating.

Michelle: Yeah and I wasn’t surprised when I saw that it affects 10% of veterans because it’s very common just to have them from various different reasons, and like you said that sometimes they do, if it’s based on certain areas or you have certain skin conditions that cause scars, it’s based on the percentage of your body that you have that condition on.

Maura: Exactly. Okay. Let’s move on to the fifth condition. This is actually a limitation of flexion of the knee. That sounds more complicated than it actually is. Some people might be thinking, “I’ve never heard of that.” But knee conditions are very, very common among veterans. Mike, can you tell us about why that might be and maybe a little bit about why the commonality of this is limited to a limitation of flexion?

Mike:  Sure.

Maura: Why we call it that?

Mike: Sure. Limitation of the flexion of the knee is just one way a veteran can get their knee condition service-connected, or I should say, one diagnostic code, one reading criteria under which the veteran can have their knee condition rated. Specifically for the limitation of flexion, we’re talking about the range of motion of the knee as a veteran moves their knee or curls their knee inward if you will, towards the body. VA will rate the condition based on limitation of motion as the veteran is moving their knee in that direction. Looking at diagnostic code 5260 for this particular condition and how VA would rate any limitation of flexion of the knee. Knee conditions are, more broadly speaking, part of the musculoskeletal system and these are the most common types of disabilities that veterans experience and have service-connected across the board. They actually account for almost, I think it’s 35 to 40 percent of all service-connected conditions or not necessarily knee conditions but musculoskeletal conditions more broadly speaking. These conditions affect veterans in every era and they’re very prevalent.

Maura: What’s the most common rating that VA will assign for, say, a knee condition?

Mike: Typically, we see Veterans receive a 10% rating for this condition and that just speaks to how VA rates a knee condition. As we were talking about, they rate the condition based on a veteran’s limitation of motion. There are very strict rating criteria specification the veteran must meet in order to have their knee rated at a certain rate. It’s not just that, “my knee is painful and that it hurts, and I can’t walk,” not necessarily. They actually go into a compensation and pension examination. The VA examiner will literally take the knee, use a device and measure the range of motion. There’s a specific part of the regulation that affords a 10% rating even if a veteran doesn’t necessarily meet the specific diagnostic code criteria for a limited range of motion but can otherwise show that they do have pain as they’re moving their knee.

Maura: Right.

Mike: So, I think we see maybe a lot of 10% ratings for that reason but it is the most common rating for the condition.

Maura: It’s definitely tricky because I think the VA makes a lot of mistakes when it comes to knee issues and also musculoskeletal issues that involve rating the condition based on the range of motion. Because a lot of people don’t fall into the range of motion parameters to get a higher rating. There are regulations that say that VA is supposed to pay attention to other indicators of functional loss or other issues that come up with the orthopedic conditions such as weakness, interference with sitting and standing pain while obviously pain while moving the joint, but fatigability in the joint, all things like that. VA usually just sticks to the codes that they have and they don’t really deviate from that and really consider those factors in the way that we think that they should. So, the 10% rating I think is, as Mike said, is the most common because they see painful motion and they just give the 10% rating.

Mike: Right. And I mean lay evidence is helpful. But in this particular area, it really is important for veterans who are scheduled for CMP exams to attend the exams. Just because again, the way VA is going to rate the condition is based on how the examiner finds the range of motion to be. And so ultimately you may have a lot of favorable lay evidence, which can certainly be helpful in a lot of ways. But VA is going to be looking at the exam and, and what the range of motion limitations are.

Maura: And which veterans are most effected by knee condition?

Mike: So, we found that Gulf war veterans tend to be more affected by knee conditions than maybe some other service areas. And that’s the second most common disability for those types of veterans.

Maura: And we’re gonna talk later about the interplay between limitation of motion, disabilities that are rated and arthritis. I think Michelle is gonna get into that later. But arthritis will come up at some point today. That’s another whole confusing topic that we’ve covered in other videos. So, we’ll do our best. Michelle, tell us about the six most common VA disability, which is either a lumbar or cervical strain.

Michelle: Yeah. So, saying a lumbar or cervical strain is really a medical terminology of saying that you have neck or back pain. It’s usually rated based on your limitation of motion. Like Mike said with the knee, with the back, you’re actually going based on how far you’re bending over. So, your forward flection is what they’re going by in order to give you a rating for it. And usually, you see that it’s based on the fluxion. However, sometimes they do rate it based on your incapacitating episodes if you do suffer from them from your back condition. VA has a duty to rate you at whichever gives you the higher rating and sometimes based on how often you’re incapacitated will result in a higher rating for veterans

Maura: And which veterans are the most affected. Is there a particular era veterans, that we see with lumbar and cervical issues?

Michelle: Yeah, same as Mike. It’s the Gulf war veterans that you’re really seeing. And I think that it comes from the fact that it is such a large range of time and it seems to be the longest period that VA considers to be a Gulf war veteran versus any other type of veteran.

Maura: I think that makes sense. We were talking about this earlier today and how we see the Gulf war era is on this list a lot in terms of which disabilities are most common among veterans. And I would agree with Michelle. We don’t really know exactly why, but just given how long the Gulf war spans there are a lot of veterans from that period. Then another thing I think that we see a lot is people complain of or they report musculoskeletal issues due to training and wearing heavy gear and not having the appropriate shoes and things like that in service. So I think that might also have some bearing on why these orthopedic conditions come up so much but.

Michelle: Yeah, I would agree. And then also with Gulf war veterans, you have undiagnosed illnesses and pain alone could be an undiagnosed illness. You don’t actually have a condition, but you have this neck or back pain. So it’s more common to see that granted in Gulf war veterans.

Maura: That’s a great point too. The seventh most common disability is paralysis of the sciatic nerve. And I’m going to stick with you because the sciatic nerve is linked to back issues which we were just talking about. So tell us about this condition.

Michelle: So, you often see this rated because VA regulations require when rating a back condition or a neck condition that they’re supposed to rate any neurological residual. So, that’s why you see it granted without a lot of times veterans having to file additional claims because it’s in VA’s own regulations. And oftentimes it is a very common residual of neck or back problems is that you, all of a sudden, have this loss of ability to move certain limbs or you have less movement, less feeling sometimes in them. So it’s a very common unfortunately as a side effect of both conditions. And that’s kind of why they link together is because usually, you don’t have this sciatic nerve or paralysis without those underlying conditions causing them.

Maura: And what’s the most common rating for sciatic nerve issues?

Michelle: You usually see 10% and it’s often because VA rates them based on mild, moderate and severe. And I think that VA, like sometimes, unfortunately, does rate it based on it just being mild or maybe it is moderate or severe. Because it’s more based on objective instead of subjective. However, lay evidence and lay testimony can also help show that it’s a little bit more severe than what you might be rated at.

Maura: And I agree with Michelle. I think that they get this wrong a lot too. Probably said that too much by now. But the code for sciatic nerve impairment and other nerve impairments, not all of them, but several of them is based on how severe the paralysis or incomplete paralysis of the nervous. And so their criteria is if your condition is mild, you get a 10. If your condition is moderate, you get 20%. If it’s severe, you get something higher. So who knows what satisfies those criteria? They’re very vague, open-ended. And sometimes if you get a VA exam, the VA examiner will just check a box that says mild. And so VA will give the rating based on that exactly. The problem is that there is no real analysis in play there. I mean, sometimes they do it appropriately, but other times they just rate it based on the checkmark.

So, as Michelle said and I think Mike had mentioned earlier lay evidence can be helpful to show how disabling the sciatic nerve impairment is or whatever other nerve impairment you might be service-connected for to try to present your case as to why the rating should be higher just because those criteria are tough. It’s hard to know what satisfies just a single word, moderate. Like depending on who’s looking at it can have all different meanings. So, that’s another one that we could go on about, for days. But one more thing about the sciatic nerve. I was surprised to see the veterans that were most affected by that because we were talking earlier about Gulf war veterans being one of the more prevalent eras for back and neck problems. But that’s not really true with the sciatic nerve issues.

Michelle: No, it’s more common in Vietnam veterans and I think this might have to do with agent orange and some of the presumptive conditions because that it’s very common for veterans to have diabetes due to being in Vietnam. And subsequently one of the residuals is peripheral neuropathy. So I think that sometimes the peripheral neuropathy also has paralysis and nerve problems that come from it. It might be a reason, I mean, I’m just going out on a kind of a limb as to why we think that that’s common. But it interesting to see because I would have honestly thought it would have been the Gulf war veterans because they have a higher rating, a higher amount of, you know, neck and back pain in conditions in general. So I thought that maybe that might have some reasoning behind it.

Maura: I think that’s a good point though about the Vietnam era veterans and how the overlap with the sciatic nerve issues can mimic the symptoms that are seen with diabetes residuals, which is a big condition. And before we get to the next condition, I just want to reiterate that we are talking about which eras of veterans are most affected, but there are several of these disabilities that affect peacetime veterans just as much as Vietnam era veterans and Gulf war era veterans. So, you should not think that if you weren’t in a certain place or serving at a certain time, you can’t file a service connection for these things. It’s definitely not supposed to be limiting in that way.

Michelle: Yeah.

Maura: We’ll move on to the eighth most common VA disability. Mike, we’ll switch over to you. This one is a limitation of motion of the ankle. Can you tell us about that?

Mike: Yeah, sure. We’re actually going back to Gulf war veterans in the sense that among this group of veterans, this condition is the sixth most common condition service-connected and claimed by these groups of veterans. The limitation of motion on the ankle primarily looks to diagnostic code 5271, in terms of rating the condition. And again, we’re talking about limitation in motion just as we were with the knee, we’re looking at the range of motion of the ankle, the ankles, and joints and we’re looking at a range of motion of the ankle. VA will rate it based on a limitation to the range of motion the veteran has in the condition. Here the reading schedule provides just a 10 or a 20% rating. And for a 10% rating, they would look for moderate what they call moderate conditions or symptomatology. And for the 20% rating, VA will look for what they call marked conditions.

Maura: Okay.

Mike:  Again, as we talked about, there really are no definitions as to what that means. So in a lot of ways, there’s no analysis, there’s not much rationale that you might receive in a decision as to why VA might rate condition as a 10% versus a 20% rating. On the flip side, it does give you an opportunity to appeal if you would choose to do so. And it allows you some wiggle room to be able to argue for an increased rating if you’d like to do so. With this condition, this again falls as we were talking about with the knee falls under the musculoskeletal system. And so, it is grouped in with what we said before that 35 to 40% of overall veterans who are service-connected with that type of condition. So it’s very prevalent. And it’s something that we see quite often.

Maura: Okay. And the ninth most common condition is actually migraines.

Mike: Yes.

Maura: Can you tell us about, first of all, what migraines are and why they might be coming up so frequently in veterans? And then also some thoughts that you have about the ratings, how VA goes about rating migraine conditions?

Mike: Sure. So migraines as most of you know, are a form of headache. It’s a type of recurring headache and it’s really noted to be an intense frequent headache that can be completely debilitating. So veterans who have a migraine, severe migraines oftentimes need to lock themselves into a room in complete darkness without any sound. And it’s really debilitating. It prevents them from working, from going about their day to day activities. And so in terms of rating the condition, we’re looking at diagnostic code 8100. It’s the only diagnostic code for reading really any type of headache. But specifically for migraines, we would look to diagnostic code 8100 as well.

And the diagnostic code rates the condition based on the frequency of how frequent a veteran has experienced migraine headaches, the severity of the condition. VA gets into calling certain symptoms as they deem it to be prostrating, which basically just means that it’s completely debilitating. A veteran is unable to do anything during an episode. So frequency, severity, duration, and really the impact that the condition has on the veteran’s ability to perform work or day to day activities. So all those things combined, when you take a look at the rating criteria, you’ll see that in some way those are incorporated into how VA would rate the condition. For headaches, for migraines, I think it’s important to think about the secondary service connection here. Certainly, direct service connection that isn’t as experienced headaches and service currently has headaches and there’s some medical nexus between the two.

That’s certainly, oftentimes a viable theory, but secondary service connection meaning, you know, a veteran has a separate service-connected condition, which then causes or aggravates or contributes in some way to the veteran’s migraine condition can also lead or allow a veteran to get their migraine condition service-connected. So here we oftentimes think of maybe an orthopedic condition that the veteran might have. That might be so painful say a neck condition, cervical spine condition that over time might lead to intense migraine headaches. And so perhaps if the veteran has that service-connected orthopedic condition, they can link that to their migraine headaches. TBIs very, you know, another big area here. The ratings for TBIs are quite complicated. I know we have Facebook live posts on this topic and blog posts on this topic if you’re interested in looking at it. But TBI is oftentimes lead to headache residuals. And so that’s another method or another way to link headaches to veterans in-service events.

Maura: And I would guess, I don’t know for sure, but I would guess that migraines are on this list because they can come up on their own, but they can also come up in association with traumatic brain injuries or TBIs. And the way that VA rates TBIs, as Mike had said, is pretty confusing. So they look at different symptoms that you display in different areas of functioning and they’ll look at memory issues, cognitive impairment things like that. But if someone has migraines, and that’s maybe the only physical manifestation of their traumatic brain injury then what VA will do is they’ll just assign you a rating for the TBI under the migraines code because the migraines code is the most specific to the symptoms that you have and is the best vehicle for rating your disability. So as a result, when we pull this data, we get a lot of– or rediscover that migraines were on this top 10 list.

But that’s probably because of the way that they rate TBIs as well as the fact that as Mike mentioned, there are plenty of reasons why you might have migraines related to service or related to a service-connected condition. The 10th disability that’s on the list. Michelle, we’re going to go back to you for spine issues is degenerative arthritis of the spine. So, you might be wondering why this is now on the list when we already talked about lumbar spine or cervical spine issues. So, can you explain why arthritis and strain issues might be coming up separately as distinct disabilities for VA purposes?

Michelle: So, VA actually rates them separately and as different conditions. So, there are different diagnostic codes for them. However, you often don’t really see a veteran’s rated under the arthritis code because it’s such a low rating usually given to it. They rate arthritis based on the joint involved, whether it’s a major or minor joint and you really can’t get a very high rating. However, if you’re also have limited range of motion or you have incapacitating episodes and like I said earlier, if that would result in a higher rating, you’ll see VA rate you under that. Well, they actually acknowledgeable diagnostic codes. They’ll say that, “Yes you have arthritis but you also have a limitation of motion.” They actually attribute your rating to whichever one is higher. So it’s very common that you see them. And they’re also considered kind of for the most part two different disabilities. Arthritis is different than pain.

Maura: Definitely. And we have talked about arthritis before. I think Mike and I hit the arthritis stuff a few weeks ago. But this was really confusing even as we prepared for talking about it because as Michelle said, a lot of people will have both arthritis and a strain or arthritis and the strain are one and the same and they manifest in similar symptoms. But people will sometimes be confused as to why VA is rating them under a limitation of motion code or a different code for the spine and not for the arthritis itself. And that’s because the VA has to defer to whichever rating scheme gives the most compensation to the veteran. And also because the ratings for arthritis are a little strange. They’re based on the joint involvement and whether the joint involved is a major or minor joint and they don’t really get at the disabling effects of the condition itself, which is what is really the driving factor behind the monthly compensation.

Michelle: Yeah. And when we’re getting into saying which diagnostic code and should you be rated under. And we’re starting to get into a point where if you’re curious about that, it’s probably time to reach out to represent, whether it’s an attorney or a veterans representative organization. It’s just good to have somebody kind of look into it and see whether or not you’re not rated correctly or you could be rated higher under a different diagnostic code. It was just something to point out since we are getting a little more technical when we’re talking about that stuff.

Maura: It’s kinda hard to stay away from the technical stuff, I think, when we’re talking about so many different conditions. I think all of these, the neurological disabilities that we talked about today, the orthopedic conditions, mental health conditions, all these things could be their own Facebook live installments or whatever have you. So we hope that this was helpful. Do we have any questions? Does anyone wanna– any closing thoughts, final remarks?

Mike: No, I would just reemphasize the fact that despite the fact that certain periods of service, as you said, maybe have a higher prevalence of these types of conditions. Veterans can be served as connected for these conditions no matter what period of service they we’re part of.

Michelle: Yeah, I would agree with Mike there. Just because, like we said, we’re not really sure what the rationale is for some of them. And I think it’s also just important to know that just because these are their 10 most common doesn’t mean what you’re applying for is in common for other veterans. These are just the ones we see the most and we see them probably every day.

Mike: Yeah.

Michelle: So it– just because you have a condition and it’s not on the list, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be applying for if you think it’s related to service.

Maura: Definitely. And just because a condition is really common doesn’t mean that your case is guaranteed. Definitely, always keep in mind the fact that with service connection issues, you always have to be showing those three elements. I think we touched on them earlier, but you need to demonstrate that you have a current condition or a current disability, that there was something that happened to you in service. And that there is a link between what you have now and what happened to you in service. That’s the bird’s eye view of it.

Michelle: Yeah.

Maura: But don’t forget to keep those elements in mind. It’s not enough to just say, I have hearing loss and so do a lot of veterans and you’re paying a lot of veterans for hearing loss. That’s very true. But you still need to keep the facts of your case in mind and make sure that you want VA to do that individual assessment anyway.

Michelle: Yes.

Maura: So we hope that this was helpful. Again, please refer to any resources that we have in the comments feed here or on our website at And thanks for joining us today.